The National Health Service (NHS) — one of the oldest and biggest medical care institutions — plays a key role in the health care of millions of patients every year. Medical care here is usually standard and most patients are discharged without any issues.
However, the increasing patient population puts more than usual pressure on the NHS, and the quality of healthcare may fall below required standards. You may be able to make NHS negligence claims if you have received substandard care by a medical professional at the NHS.
It is important that the victim of medical negligence receives his or her compensation quickly in order to care for their health needs. Unfortunately, making a claim can be a complex, lengthy and stressful process. To make a successful claim and receive the compensation you deserve, there are important things about NHS medical negligence claims you should know.
- 1. The NHS Resolution:
The NHS Resolution is responsible for managing medical negligence claims against the NHS. In most cases, claims against the NHS are settled out of court or dropped; in fact, only less than 2% of claims end up in court. The NHS Resolution has a database of information where it stores claims filed against the NHS, as well as ‘incidents’ and potential claims where legal action has not taken yet but where a patient has made it clear that they would make a claim.
If you have suffered an injury or loss as a direct result of the negligent treatment you received, you can make a claim for compensation. This claim may include compensation for pain and suffering, psychological damage, and loss of earnings. A claim can also be filed on behalf of the next of kin of a person who has died or has lost the capacity to make a claim on their own.
3. Compensation Schemes:
Certain injuries may require special compensation for the damages caused. You may be entitled to make a claim under the special compensation scheme without heading to court. For instance, if you have suffered an illness after a vaccination was administered, you could make a compensation claim to the Vaccine Damage Payment Unit. People who contract HIV when treating other ailments can claim payments from the Government and from the MacFarlane Trust.
4. Time Limits:
Medical negligence claims are subject to a three-year ‘limitation period’. This means that you must issue your claim within 3 years from when the alleged negligence occurred or from when you first realized you had an injury or illness.
If the victim is a child, the 3-year limit does not apply until they turn 18. If the victim is an individual who lacks the capacity to file a claim due to a mental disability, the 3-year limit does not also begin until (and unless) they fully recover from the condition. In both cases, a close relative or parent can make a claim on their behalf.
5. Working with a Solicitor:
You should see a specialized medical negligence solicitor for your case. If, for instance, a misdiagnosis by a medical professional has led to your injury, a misdiagnosis claims solicitor will be best placed to handle your claim. In the UK, there are two panels — the Law Society and the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) — recognized for the administration of specialized medical negligence solicitors.
The medical negligence solicitor will evaluate your case and determine if it is strong enough for a claim. To achieve this goal, they will require as much information as possible. So, it is important that you keep records of every relevant piece of your medical care, as well as any documents relating to the complaints’ procedure. Also ensure you store records of loss of earnings and any expenses the damage has caused you. If the solicitor decides that you have a reasonable chance of success, he or she will give you an idea how much your claim might be worth.
6. Letter of Claim:
If you decide against working with a medical negligence solicitor and plan on representing yourself instead, you will need to send a letter of claim to the NHS Trust responsible for your medical treatment. This letter should include your full name and address, date of birth, treatment dates, national insurance number, and the names of the healthcare professionals involved.
Your letter of claim should precisely state the nature of the alleged negligent care, against which medical personnel, and on what date. It should also state the nature of damage caused by the negligent care, and the kind of compensation you seek.
Funding a Medical Negligence Claim:
Your medical negligence solicitor will discuss the funding options available to you. Different solicitor firms work with different funding arrangements for their clients. While some will deduct a ‘success fee’ from your award of compensation if the claim is successful, some do not. So, it is important that you carefully choose the medical negligence solicitors you work with.
Funding options for medical negligence claims include:
- Legal Aid: Legal aid seized to cover medical negligence claims since April 2013. However, certain illnesses involving children may receive limited public funding. An example is if the child has suffered a birth injury.
- Insurance Policies: Some insurance policies provide cover for legal expenses which could be used to fund a medical negligence claim. However, these policies usually have a set limit on the legal costs they cover, and you may have to choose a solicitor on the insurer’s list. If you are funding your claim through this policy, you should ask for a medical negligence specialist.
- Conditional Fee Agreements: Often known as ‘no-win no-fee’ agreements, this funding method is such that you will not have to pay any legal fees to your solicitor if you do not win the case. But if you are successful, the solicitor may take some percentage off your compensation as a success fee.